Tim Cook's heroes

30 May 2012

Tim Cook was on stage at D10 earlier today where he talked a lot about what he can’t talk about. If you follow Apple or work in tech industry, I don’t think you’re missing much by not watching it. But for those who are interested, you can find the full coverage here and video highlights here.

The one thing I do want to talk about though, is a question asked during the Q&A session: ”What do you look up to? Is there a person or a company?

If you walked in my office, you would see Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King. If you are talking about CEOs that are living... I have incredible respect for Bob Iger and what he has done at Disney.

I think it’s interesting to highlight because if people are still wondering what kind of leader Tim Cook is going to be, you can find your answer within those three figures. They’re all extremely smart which goes without saying but I think they represent three qualities within Tim Cook: Loyalty - Bobby Kennedy, Leadership - Martin Luther King, Vision - Bob Iger.

Bobby Kennedy’s relationship with Jack is a lot like the relationship Tim had with Steve. Bobby is known to be the operational guy who worked extremely hard to keep Jack’s madness under control. And also like Bobby, Cook doesn’t get nearly enough credit for the not-so-sexy behind the scene grunt work when Steve was running the show. Hardware production is a profit margin business and dealing with Foxconn has got to be pretty difficult. I have heard stories of how hard Tim works, they never seize to amaze me. But despite it all, Tim was extremely loyal to Apple and Steve trusted Tim so much that he handed his baby over. This speaks volume.

Martin Luther King is one of the greatest leader ever born. But there are a lot of great leaders Tim could’ve picked, why King? I think it’s because King’s integrity and beliefs in doing what’s right. You hear all the time that Apple is more of a movement than a company when Steve was leading. If this is still true today, I hope that leader continue to make bold decisions by doing the right thing.

Bob Iger doesn’t have Steve Jobs vision. No one does, and probably no one will. But Iger’s vision lies in his ability to make great business decisions. Two of his biggest accomplishments to date for Disney are the acquisitions of Pixar and Marvel. When Disney was going through a rough time in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it was Iger who pulled them out of the ditch. With Disney back on track, Iger was name as a Board of Director serving Apple’s Audit Committee.

Apple is never going to be the same as it’s once was with Steve. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Tim Cook says one of the things he learned from Steve was not accepting things good or very good, but only the best.

That’s embedded in Apple.
I’m not going to witness or permit the change of that.

Good luck Apple, I want to see that fricking TV soon.

Disclaimer: I do not own Apple stock